I mentioned earlier in the month that I wasn’t having the best of times this month, and it’s still a bit of a struggle, especially the last few days where I have been ill on top of already feeling like I was sinking. I had to leave my job, and that left me feeling useless and pathetic alongside the struggle I was having with my anxiety.
However, I have been making an effort to be the ‘best me’ I can every day.
Sometimes the ‘best me’ is awesome and gets all the housework done, doesn’t lose her temper at anyone, cooks dinner from scratch and remembers who needs to be where when and gets them there.
Other times the ‘best me’ just about manages to get the kids to school on time, goes back to bed after the school run and manages to rustle up dinner out of the random beige items stocked in the freezer.
Both of these are okay.
I am learning to accept this.
Quite a lot of the time I struggle with not being that first ‘me’. The one that is organised and fun and on top of everything.
I’ll be honest, I’m not that one all that often. More often now than in the past, but still, far from every day.
Mostly though, I am managing to be somewhere in between the two. I’m keeping the washing mountain under control (it’s more consistently a mole hill these days) and I’m meal planning and sticking to it probably 5 days out of 7. So we are all eating a bit better and I think that helps a lot (though Arthur is not all that pleased about the amount of green things he is now expected to eat…)
I’ve even managed to get myself into a routine of daily exercise that often involves the gym but sometimes just means getting up a bit earlier so I can walk Arthur to school. I will confess that a major driver in this is the audiobook I am currently listening to – I’ve set a rule that I can only listen when I’m exercising (or on a long car trip on my own, which isn’t all that often) and it’s so good that I want my daily half-hour fix badly enough to go slog away on the cross-trainer or treadmill to get it. (The Core: The Demon Cycle #5 by Peter V. Brett, if you’re wondering. Definitely a series to pick up if you are an epic/high fantasy fan.)
Also the lure of shiny virtual achievement badges on the Apple Watch fitness app has helped too. I like shiny things and love collecty-challenges – that’s why I love Pokemon (Gotta catch ’em all!) and games like Crash Bandicoot (must get EVERY SINGLE BOX) – so using this in ‘real life’ situations is clearly the way to go.
This has helped to clear my head, kept my energy levels up a bit, is presumably helping me keep fit and is a personal challenge that I feel I can keep up and slowly, slowly increase over time without any pressure.
I’m still a bit shouty some days, but I’m making an effort not to be. I’m also making the effort to be more present. To put my phone down, make ‘stuff’ with The Smalls, get the board games out or do a jigsaw. (I’m halfway through a jigsaw I borrowed off my Dad at the moment and it’s just getting to that point where I’ve done the ‘easy’ bits and left myself with the vast expanses of just ‘red’ and ‘blue’ bits. I think everyone else is getting sick of it taking over the front room floor – I’ll get there eventually!)
I’m trying to get outside every day and to ‘go somewhere’ at the weekend. Even if ‘somewhere’ is just down the road for a walk in the woods. Getting back out after my anxiety flare up felt terrifying but I knew it was important because once I’m out it helps so much.
I packed the kids in the car and drove us to Clun Castle the other weekend. It was a challenge because it was a new place so I was driving unfamiliar roads (on the Wales/Shropshire border so lots of narrow, twisty-turny country roads which I love but do take some concentration) and didn’t really know what to expect once we got there.
We had a lovely day in the end despite it being bitterly cold and grey – the kids loved running around the ruins and were playing some fabulously complex treasure hunting game where Arthur was a mole (as in the animal) and Tori was some sort of Pirate Captain whilst I ambled around wildlife spotting and enjoying the sound of their laughter mingling with the chuckling river and birdcalls.
We warmed up in a beautiful tiny cafe with milkshakes and ginger beer before driving back home for dinner.
Not only was the trip a good breath of fresh air and a voyage of discovery to a new-to-us part of our home county, it restored my self-confidence that I wasn’t too useless to take The Smalls on an adventure by myself. That I could cope. I was okay.
I even took myself off to a ‘board games night’ at a local pub all on my own. It was run by people I didn’t know and I was so nervous that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to speak or stay once I got there, but I did. I had a great night, laughed a lot, learned a new game and arranged to go again in a couple of weeks’ time.
This all sounds like a lot of baby-steps that aren’t much to speak of, but it feels massive to me. The difference in how I feel for the house being that tiny bit more organised and tidy, for me being that tiny bit more active, that little bit more social – it is huge.
So that’s where I’m at, and that’s where I’m going to try and stay for now, until all of this is normal and I feel steady with the routines and in myself. Then maybe I’ll start trying to take a few more baby-steps in other directions and hopefully my ‘best me’ will get even better.